Intellectuals advised not to go to Nandigram

May 10th, 2008 - 5:55 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, May 10 (IANS) The West Bengal Election Commission (WBEC) has refused to guarantee security to a team of city-based intellectuals under the banner of NGO Swajan who set out for Nandigram in East Midnapore district Saturday afternoon to monitor the situation during the panchayat polls scheduled Sunday. “It is not possible to guarantee the intellectuals full security at Nandigram. At this moment, our focus is to conduct fair and peaceful polls there and we can’t afford extra burden at this moment. I have already requested the intellectuals to reconsider their decision. They must not go to Nandigram during the polls,” Election Commissioner Ashok Gupta told reporters Saturday.

Reacting to his statement, Swajan spokesperson and theatre-artist Shaonli Mitra told IANS: “This is a conspiracy to hold us back so that there will be no one to stand by the people there during the polls. The election commissioner assured us Thursday that we will be given full security. Now at the eleventh hour he is saying we can’t have special protection!”

“We will remain firm in our decision. Nandigram needs us and we will stand by the people through thick and thin,” she said.

“We fear that the pre-poll violence will continue Sunday as well. People will be tortured and threatened to vote in favour of the ruling party. Hence we decided to go there and take rounds of the booths and see that the democratic rights of the people are not violated during the polls,” Mitra added.

Earlier, the intellectuals had submitted a memorandum to WBEC demanding immediate transfer of Nandigram police station’s officer-in-charge Debashis Chakraborty, East Midnapore District Magistrate Anup Agarwal and Police Superintendent S.S. Panda to ensure a fair panchayat poll in the trouble-torn region.

They suggested the commission form an independent body, without any political affiliation, which will visit the violence-hit areas in Nandigram during the panchayat poll and submit their report to the commission.

Swajan is an independent body of civil society formed by a number of eminent intellectuals including filmmaker Aparna Sen and painter Subhaprasanna.

Panchayat elections in West Bengal will be held May 11, 14 and 18 and counting will take place May 21.

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